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Tokyo Olympic Games Open Friday


Gymnasts from Netherlands practice on the balance beam during a training session at the Ariake Gymnastics Center in Tokyo on July 22, 2021, prior to the beginning of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.

The Tokyo Olympics Games are set to open Friday amid the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic.

On Friday, organizers said 19 people, including three athletes, are the latest people with ties to the Games to have tested positive for the coronavirus.

So far, at least 110 people linked to the Olympics have tested positive, including at least 13 athletes.

The opening ceremony and the subsequent Games will be staged in arenas void of fans, as host city Tokyo is in its fourth state of emergency because of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Naomi Osaka, Japan’s star athlete, was slated to play her first Olympics tennis game Saturday, but her game has now been moved to Sunday. It was not immediately clear why the move was made, but the Associated Press speculated that Osaka would probably play a prominent role in the opening ceremony and would not have enough time to recuperate if she played on Saturday.

In addition to the controversy of holding the Games during a pandemic, the organizers of this year’s Games are also dealing with other controversies. On Thursday, the creative director of Friday's opening ceremony, Kentaro Kobayashi, was dismissed after footage from the 1990s surfaced of him making fun of the Holocaust.

“It should never be the job of an entertainer to make people feel uncomfortable,” Kobayashi said in an apology published in one of Japan’s largest newspapers, the Yomiuri Shimbun. “I would like to apologize for making people feel uncomfortable. I am very sorry.”

In addition, the Tokyo Olympics creative director quit earlier this year after comparing a female Japanese comedian/actress to a pig, while a composer for the Games resigned after an old magazine interview revealed bullying of classmates with intellectual disabilities.

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